for about the last 3 months i have really focused my lifting to one exercise, the clean and press. this is an intense movement that i believe is still an olympic lift. i have never had a lift take so much out of me like this does, as you are essentially taking a bar off of the ground and working it up to above your head. i have showed some of my friends this lift and they have tried to incorporate it into their routines. eskay saw me do it at the gym once and referred to it as eurotraining.
so when i started back in mid january, i was a little burnt out on spreading myself thin with too many exercises and for once, i would just really focus on one. the clean and press made sense as it is probably the most metabolically challenging exercise and one that generally requires 2-5 minutes of rest between sets of 5. it works then entire body.
when you set up, you step as close to the bar as possible, with feet shoulder width apart. you reach down and grab the bar (both grips overhand), get down low, maintain good lower back posture, chest up, arms taught. this is the same as with a deadlift. from there you explode up, bringing the bar with you. your legs are driving, your back is extending, and you are pulling with your shoulders, arms and upper back. as the bar is on it's way up, you dip your legs, and snap the bar to the top of your chest. stand up straight and press the bar over your head. lock your arms for a second and then, under control, reverse the motion, bringing the bar back to the ground. it's a move that requires some practice, as you are really having to coordinate and teach your body to explode and do it in the correct motor pattern.
here is a guy doing 225, though he is starting from a hang and is not pressing to lockout.
so back in mid january i arbitrarily chose the goal of performing the clean and press at 185 lbs for 5 sets of 5. i guess having a 45lb and 25lb plate on each side seemed aesthetically pleasing to me. i started at 135 and have worked my way up to 180. i increased the weight 5 lbs at a time, generally every couple of weeks, when the current weight would begin to feel more manageable. getting up to 160 wasn't too bad, and my cardio was taxed more than anything. but my elevation up to 180 from 160 has really been a test of my will and focus.
as corny as it sounds i think the progression of the last 20 lbs has set off a light bulb in understanding a little bit more about breaking through barriers in lifting. i didn't even realize this was something until i got there and it's impossible to really explain here, but i have a better idea of what it takes to really get stronger (no, not roids) and i think it will benefit me with my next lifting goals (i'm thinking 300/400/500 bench/squat/deadlift). it's scary to really push myself, especially with this exercise. i tend not to think about it, but there are so many things that can go wrong if i have a lapse in focus or a muscle tears or some other random accident takes place, i could be in a really bad spot. my ankle is wonky and there is no real way for anyone to spot me. but i think for the first time in my lifting i have fully challenged myself and it feels good.
i have been lifting regularly for the last 3 or 4 years now and have made general, vague gains in strength and fitness, but i never really set specific number goals with my lifting. while the rest of my lifts have definitely suffered and i will be starting way back on the ground floor for most of them when i return, there is definitely something different and fulfilling about completing this (hopefully).
i think this is the record holder:
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